Venomous Snakes of Liberia and West Africa

Name & Pictures Description
Western Bush Viper

Common Name: Western Bush Viper, West African Bush Viper; Green Bush Viper

Scientific Name: Atheris chlorerchis - Atheris chlorechis is found in the forests of West Africa from Guinea east to Gabon.


This slender bush viper is relatively large. Adults are often 45-60 cm (18-24 inches). Some specimens may reach 70 cm (28 inches). The keeled body scales are smaller than other members of the genus giving it a smoother appearance.

Its tail is long and strongly prehensile with a yellow tip. Not nearly as variable as other species, western bush vipers are light green with a pale green or bluish venter and pale yellowish

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paired dorsal spots. The 6-7 1/2 inch (15-19 cm) babies may be tan or light brown and change to yellowish green with dark green markings within 24 hours (Freed, 1986, Spawls & Branch, 1995). Others have reported neonates being solid yellow with light tan markings down the back (Morgan, pers. comm.). These babies developed small greenish blotches at about two months of age but remained predominately yellow. Yet another keeper had neonates that were dark blue with black markings.

Habitat and Behavior

This species is primarily arboreal and is often found in low bushes and shrubs in rainforest at altitudes of up to 560 meters

Puff Adder

Common Name: Puff Adder

Scientific Name: Bitis arietans


A large and stocky adder found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. This snake is responsible for many serious snakebite cases in many areas of its range.

A slow-moving, bad-tempered and excitable snake that may hiss or puff when disturbed.  It relies on its perfect camouflage and will rather freeze than move off

This is a thick, heavily built snake, reaching a maximum length of 120 cm. Females give live birth and can have between 20 to 40 young. A Puffadder hunts by ambush, and is less likely to move out of the way than most other snakes.

It hisses ominously when disturbed, hence the name "puff" adder. This is one of the front-fanged snakes. When it strikes, the fangs fold forward and inject venom into the prey on impact. The venom is cytotoxic and is usually deeply injected.

Gaboon Viper

Common Name: Gaboon Viper or Gaboon Adder

Scientific Name: Bitis gabonica


The largest African viper, this snake has a striking coloration and pattern that nevertheless offers it camouflage.

Specimens may exceed 6 feet (2 m) and 15 pounds (6.8 kg). The fangs of a large adult may exceed two inches (5 cm) in length.

Rhinoceros-horned Viper

Common Name: Rhinoceros-horned Viper

Scientific Name: Bitis nasicornis


A large heavy bodied viper with a prominent nasal horns that inhabits the forests of equatorial Africa. Its beautiful color and pattern is as striking as that of any snake, but in its environment the color and pattern are disruptive and render these vipers essentially invisible on the forest floor.

Causus lichtensteinii
Rhombic Night Adder

Common Name: Common or Rhombic Night Adder

Scientific Name: Causus rhombeatus

As the name indicates, this is a nocturnal snake, which rests up under logs and in termitaria during the day. It has poor eyesight and hunts mainly by smell. Although this snake is poisonous, it's venom is not very potent and causes mainly pain and swelling. There are no recorded deaths caused by this snake.
Jameson's Mamba

Common Name: Jameson's Mamba

Scientific Name: Dendroaspis jamesoni


A duller green mamba found in forests throughout much of equatorial Africa.

Black Mamba

Common Name: Black Mamba

Scientific Name: Dendroaspis polylepis

Black Mamba Description & General Information

Black mambas are snakes eight to ten feet in length. They are not actually black but more of an olive to a gray color. The 'black' part of the name comes from the color of the inside of the snake's mouth, which is a purple black color. Their belly color is normally gray or light green. Black mambas are native to Africa. Black Mambas are noted for their speed and agility. No doubt, they are one of the fastest snakes; they are not the largest.

The largest venomous snake is King Cobra and the most venomous is a species of Sea Krait. They are closely related to the more tree-dwelling Green Mamba, which is just as deadly. Both types of mamas are rear-fanged. Rear-fanged snakes cannot fold their fangs back like rattlesnakes and others. The fangs are fixed much like those of a Coral Snake; however, the Black Mamba's fangs are located in the rear of the mouth not the front.

The fastest land snake in the world is the aggressive black mamba found in the southern part of tropical Africa. You might have heard stories about this snake overtaking people on galloping horses but although these snakes are fast, they aren't that fast. They can reach top speeds of 10-12 mph (16-19 km/h) in short bursts over level ground - good luck trying to outrun one of these snakes if you tick it off!

The black mamba is much more terrestrial than the other three species of mamba, but it readily takes to the trees in search of prey and to bask or seek shelter.

Despite its name, black mambas aren't black. They're gray. The name comes from the color of the inside of their mouth - something all of them will gladly show you while they threaten you, if provoked.

They can grow up to 14 feet (4.3 meters) long, another reason why this reptile isn't something to mess with. The snake races along with its head held high and about one-third of its body off the ground. That can be up to four feet (1.2 meters) off the ground - about chin level for some people. The black mamba is the most respected and feared snake in Africa.

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They are aggressive snakes that spring up to strike so when someone gets bitten, it's usually on the head. Black mambas also go after birds - and they're good at it. One mamba even had a parrot inside its stomach. After biting their prey, black mambas leave it to die. The venom is strong enough to kill prey in a matter of minutes so the snakes don't have to wait long for their meal.


Before actually attacking when it feels threatened it will first give a threatening display by lunging at the attacker with gaping jaws, showing off the black/purple coloring of the inside of the mouth. If this attempt to ward of the harasser does not work it will then resort to attempting to bite the attacker. Multiple bites are inflicted quickly.

The bite of the black mamba is deadly and will kill a human around 4 hours after receiving the bite. The venom is neurotoxic and cardiotoxic. If not treated the symptoms are but not limited to: the tightening of the chest muscles, blurred vision, mental confusion, and an overall feeling of great discomfort. Biting and the threat display will only occur if the snake is not able to escape. An example of this would be a snake caught in someone's house with the owner trying to remove it with a broom. Before antivenin was available the bite of a Black Mamba was always fatal.


Common Name: West African Green Mamba

Scientific Name: Dendroaspis viridis


A green and black mamba from the forests of West Africa.


Mambas have scales on their bodies. The green in the mamba's body is used to help hide it from its enemies while resting in the trees. The mamba's jaw is adapted for feeding, with the snake's skin being elastic and it being able to dislocate. That is why the mamba can swallow prey up to four times the size of its head.


Smell is detected by the use of mamba's tongue, which picks up vibrations.
Vibrations can also be picked up from the ground through the mamba's body.




Mambas rely on abandoned termite mounds and animal holes for shelter.  Other areas include sparse brush and rocky areas.

The green mamba travels throughout its life alone.

Mating occurs in spring after the male finds a female from her scent trail. Copulation can be drawn out to over a couple hours or days. After copulation the female can lay from 10-15 eggs. The eggs are long and thin and range 4-6 centimeters in length and 3-3.5 centimeters in width.

Egyptian Cobra

Common Name: Egyptian Cobra

Scientific Name: Naja haje

Location: North Africa

According to legend, Cleopatra asked that an asp, an Egyptian cobra, be delivered to her in a basket of figs. That was the cobra that bit her, causing her death and according to the Egyptians, her immortality.

This large and heavy bodied species has the widest range of any African snake.

.The Egyptian cobra is extremely dangerous and responsible for many human deaths

The venom of the Egyptian cobra is neurotoxic, that is it destroys nerve tissue, and it is much stronger than that of the common cobra. This venom has been used for many years in medical research because it has an enzyme, lecithinase, that dissolves cell walls and membranes surrounding viruses.

When injected into its prey, the venom causes paralysis and death due to respiratory failure, usually within 15 minutes.


The Egyptian cobra can grow to eight feet (2.4 meters) long, although the average length is five to six feet. The head is small and flat with a rounded snout. The body is moderately stout, tapering gradually to a pointed tail. The scales are smooth, large and distinct and colors vary from grayish yellow to brown to almost black.

When threatened, the snake raises the front part of its body and spreads its neck into a hood. Dark bars are displayed on the throat and front of the hood, but the back is unmarked. The cobra is almost always portrayed in this most distinctive pose.

The Egyptian cobra is a fast-moving snake and is thought to be very intelligent and relatively docile. A nighttime hunter, it forages mainly for toads, lizards and birds.


Forest Cobra

Common Name: Forest Cobra

Scientific Name: Naja melanoleuca

Naja melanoleuca FOREST COBRA

A large and highly adaptable cobra found in various habitats throughout its large range.

Black Spitting Cobra

Common Name: Black Spitting Cobra

Scientific Name: Naja nigricollis

Naja nigricollis has an extreme geographic range within Africa. The morph we maintain and breed is the black, red bellied with a skin texture of a silky matt finish similar to that of a Boelen's python. It should be understood that these snakes rarely spit.

They do have the capability of atomizing venom accurately to a distance of up to 20 feet. Be advised that these snakes for the most part, exhibit a shy character however will bite unpredictably with grave tissue destructive with neuro effect and in many cases the bite of this animal will require amputation of a limb or death
Black Tree Cobra

Common Name: Black Tree Cobra also call Hoodless Cobra

Scientific Name: Pseudohaje nigra

No picture available for the Black Tree Cobra


These two large and primarily arboreal species are found in the forests of tropical Africa. They have a reputation for being particularly ill-tempered and have an extremely toxic venom.

For more information on how to treat snakes bites visit Snake Protocol - Protocols which have been written for potential snakebites to human beings.